June 28, 1984
In an underground base in Russia, Major General Stepanov and his officers watch as scientists in the main chamber activate a massive generator. A scientist and his assistant Alexei come in, take two keys out of a case, and insert them separately and simultaneously to activate the generator. The generator powers a device that fires a massive beam, creating a rift. The technicians stare as tentacles reach out of the expanding rift.
The base shakes and the machine runs out of control. The rift closes and the device shuts down, and then explodes in a burst of energy. The technicians are reduced to bloody corpses by the energy. Once the energy dies down, Stepanov and the scientists go in. The major general puts his hand on the wall where what's left of the rift remains. When the scientist tries to explain, Stepanov's aide Grigori grabs him by the throat and lifts him into the air. Stepanov talks to Alexei briefly and leaves, and Grigori drops the older scientist's corpse to the floor.
Stepanov and Grigori leave the base and depart via helicopter.
One Year Later
In El's bedroom, Mike and El kiss. Jim sits in the living room, watches TV, and eats potato chips. He leans back in his recliner to see the teenagers kiss and yells at El to stop. El slams her bedroom door shut telekinetically, and Jim yells at her to remember the 3" minimum. He finally shoves the door open, and Mike and El are sitting separately and look innocently at him.
Later, Mike rides his bike home and talks to El on the walkie-talkie about what happened. He assures her that he'll see her tomorrow and signs off. Mike goes to the Starcourt Mall and meets Lucas, Will, and Max. They go into the movie, Day of the Dead, and Lucas teases Mike about being with El. Erica is there with her friends and yells at Lucas, and the two of them insult each other. First they go into the ice cream parlor, Scoops Ahoy, and hit the bell. The counter girl, Robin, calls to Steve that his "children" are there.
Steve leads them through the back so they can sneak down the hall to the movie theater. The kids go into the R-rated movie and take seats, and the movie begins. The power goes out in the entire mall, and then throughout Hawkins.
At an abandoned factory outside of Hawkins, the floor shakes and glass particles are pulled toward a vortex. After a moment, the vortex shoots the glass out.
The power comes back up and the movie projector starts going again. Will feels something and scratches at the back of his neck. He remembers his experiences with the Upside Down, and Mike asks if he's okay. Will nervously tells him that he's fine.
The next morning, Nancy wakes up and realizes that she overslept. She tells Jonathan that they forgot to reset the clocks after the power outage, and Nancy sneaks out of Jonathan's bedroom window after she gets dressed. Jonathan heads out and tells his mother Joyce that he has to get to work and will eat later. Once he leaves, Joyce talks about Jonathan and his new love with Will, who thinks that it's gross. Will insists that he won't fall in love, and Joyce notices that the magnets have fallen off of the refrigerator. She puts the picture of Bob back up on the refrigerator.
Jonathan drives Nancy to her job and says that they can't be late. She complains that she's a "coffee delivery machine" and don't respect her, and Jonathan tells her that she has to be patient. They drive past Dustin, who is heading back to Hawkins from science camp and tries to raise his friends on the walkie-talkie. He gets no response and Mrs. Henderson tells him to relax and that maybe his friends forgot he was coming back/
Dustin and his mother arrive at home, and Dustin goes to his room. His toys activate on their own and go out the door, and Dustin grabs a can of hairspray and follows them. The others are hiding, and Mike has El stop the toys that she's telekinetically moving. They then sneak up on Dustin with a "welcome home" sign, and he turns and sprays Lucas in the face with hairspray.
At the city pool, Karen is tanning and reading a book. Billy takes over as lifeguard and all of the mothers pretty themselves up and watch him. Billy stops a boy from running and says hello to the mothers, who all say hello back.
Downtown Hawkins is nearly abandoned because of the new mall. Joyce is putting up a sale sign at the hardware store where she works, and Jim comes in. He talks about El and Mike, and complains that Mike is corrupting her. Jim figures that he needs them to break up because they're kissing constantly. Joyce warns him that he can't order them around and they'll rebel, and suggests that he talk to them. Jim figures that it won't work, and Joyce explains that he talks to them like he's on their level. After that, he creates some boundaries and stays calm. He asks Joyce to come over and do it for him, and Joyce says that it only works if it comes from him. Joyce offers to help him find the right words.
Nancy goes by and arrives at the Hawkins Post office. She barges into the darkroom while Jonathan is working on photos, and he yells at her to get out. Nancy takes food into the conference room where Bruce and the other reports are discussing stories with the editor, Tom Holloway. He says that he needs something real, and Nancy speaks up, suggesting Starcourt. Everyone stares at her, and Nancy describes all of the stores that are closing. Bruce complains about the missing mustard on his hamburger, and everyone bursts into laughter. She takes the hamburger and leaves.
Lucas washes his eyes out, while Dustin shows the others what he made at camp. The final item is Cerebro the super ham radio he made. He tells them that he can talk to his girlfriend, Suzie, and they all perk up. Dustin says that Suzie is hot and he goes to set up the radio and talk to her.
Steve serves ice cream and flirts with two teenaged girls, and talks about how he wanted real-life experience before he hit college. He tries to pick up a girl and she turns him down. Once they leave, Robin marks off how many times Steve has failed, and he complains how his hat is ruining his hair and his chances. Robin suggests that he tell the truth, and points out more girls coming in. Steve takes off his sailor hat and flirts with them, and Robin marks off more failures on her whiteboard.
Jim rehearses what he's going to say with Joyce, and complains that it doesn't sound like him. He checks his notes and then figures that it won't work, Joyce takes his hand and assures him that he's got it. Jim invites her to dinner, and Joyce tells him that she has plans. A customer comes in and Joyce goes to check on her, while Jim looks thoughtfully at Joyce.
The kids go up a hill so Dustin can get the best reception, and Dustin talks about Suzie. A lot. Mike and El say that they have to go home for curfew. Once they leave, the others tell Dustin that Mike and El have been taking off on them all summer. Dustin leads the others the rest of the way up the hill, and Will scratches at the back of his neck again.
Rats gather in the thousands at the factory and go into the basement... and start exploding.
At the pool, Billy watches Karen swim and admires her form. When she climbs out, Billy comes over and says that she's looking good. They flirt with each other and Billy offers to teach her a few advanced strokes. Billy invites her to a pool at a quiet motel outside of Hawkins, and Karen finally says that she can't. He continues, saying that it will be the workout of her life, and Karen smiles.
Dustin and the others reach the top of the hill. Lucas chugs all the water from a canteen. When Max complains, Lucas spits some back in the canteen and offers it to her. She doesn't accept. They set up the radio antenna and Dustin calls Suzie. There's nothing at will, and Dustin tells the others that she's there but it's dinnertime.
Night falls and Joyce returns home. She discovers that Jonathan and Will aren't there, microwaves some food, and sits down in front of the TV to watch Cheers. As she eats, Joyce remembers sitting and watching Cheers with Bob. On the refrigerator, all of the magnetic shake and then fall off of the refrigerator.
Nancy is cleaning up around the office when the phone rings. Everyone else has gone home, and Nancy answers it. A woman talks about disease and rats.
Mike and El go back to El's room and kiss. Jim sits in the living room and rehearses what he's going to say, then knocks on El's door. She lets him in and Jim hesitantly sits down. He can't say anything, and they giggle at him. Jim tells them that they're not in trouble, and tells Mike that Karen called and needs him home. He says that it's probably about Mike's grandmother. Jim leads Mike to his truck, gets him in, and says that there's nothing wrong with the woman. He tells Mike that there's something wrong between him and El. Mike tries to get out and discovers that the door is locked. When he says that Jim is crazy, Jim tells him that he's going to drive him home and Mike is going to listen to him as he talks. Then if Mike is lucky, Jim will continue allowing him to date El. Mike hastily nods in understanding and Jim drives off.
Dustin continues trying to reach Suzie and insists that she's there. Lucas suggests that Suzie doesn't exist because no girl is that perfect. When Max objects, Lucas assures her that she's perfect in her own special way. She figures that Dustin is lying and goes home with Lucas. Will tells Dustin that it's late and he has to go home, and they can play D&D the next day like they used to. Once they go, someone starts speaking Russian on the radio.
A Russian comm officer is on the radio in a base, and Alexei walks past him and into an observation gallery. The scientist stares at the glowing device on the floor below.
Karen showers, dresses, and makes herself up. She hesitantly removes her wedding ring and goes downstairs, and sees Ted sleeping in the recliner with Holly.
Steve drives to the motel and as he rehearses his lines in the rearview mirror, something slams into the windshield. He brakes to a halt near the factory, slamming into a post. The engine won't turn over and Steve gets out to check the damage. Steve finds a clear goo on the windshield, and something runs by in the shadows. When he yells asking who's there, something grabs his leg and drags him into the factory and into the basement. Steve grabs the door for a second, but the creature pulling him easily breaks his grip and pulls him the rest of the way.
Written by Gadfly on Jul 20, 2019